My impressions after trading in a 2016 Meteor Grey iGT with a Black and chocolate interior) for a 2018 Machine Grey Metallic 6 Signature with Chestnut interior. FYI, While I leased my 2016, I purchased the Sig (0% financing).
- Quick, quick, quick. Scary quick in some cases. Passing power is ridiculous. I’ve easily surpassed 100mph without much effort. By comparison my 2016 made it clear when I was beyond 80mph.
- With the right tires (I swapped the Falkens for Yoko Advan Sport A/S) no concerns around handling or take-offs from zero. Zero to minimal wheelspin off the line. Even with winters (Falken Eurowinters) this car grips well. I can feel it hunker down when I hit the accelerator.
- Ride is firm but comfortable. As with ALL the Mazda I’ve owned, this company knows how to calibrate a suspension.
- IMO Mazda’s “Jinba Ittai” mantra is more than marketing hyperbole. As has been the case with my other Mazdas, the 6 Sig is loosening up and I feel very much connected to the driving experience.
- I feel like Mazda did a nice job improving NVH, while retaining a very connect feeling. I also appreciate this quality on days when I’m tired and just want to get home or have a long road trip. Quiet enough, but still willing to make good noises and deliver excellent reflexes when you put your foot down.
- The upgraded Bose stereo is impressive. Not “audiophile perfect”, but a definite step up from the system in my 2016. I believe the addition of tweeters (i.e. going from a “two-way” to “three-way” driver set-up) in the door sails enabled Bose to keep each driver in its “comfort zone”, i.e. instead of asking the midrange driver in the dashboard and the bass driver in the door to reproduce higher frequencies (for effective cross-over blending) the woofer, mid and tweeter are able to stick in the frequency ranges with enough bandwidth for a cleaner cross-over and therefore retain linearity with less distortion. IMO all types of music from acoustic to orchestral to electronic sound great. Lower noise floor enables me to listen to orchestral without having to pump volume.
- While I do hear a slight buzz with certain music, higher build quality of interior and especially doors/cards no longer buzz/rattle like crazy with lower bass. My 2016 doors would buzz and rattle when I played any music with aggressive or low bass. Bass is noticeably tighter and more tuneful. FYI, this is with EQ set to flat in both cars.
- The lack of noises from interior materials (along with better NVH) contribute to a better musical experience. i.e. when I just feel like sitting back for a relaxing drive my tunes are more enjoyable, IMO more musical.
- Gorgeous Interior. Feels upscale and extremely well-screwed together.
- Nappa seats are breaking in nicely. Initial concerned about lateral support are no more. As the seat has broken in, the bolsters have conformed to my 6’2’ 190lb frame.
- Styling continues to impress me. Mazda sure knows how to design sheet metal. More people have mistaken my 6 for a Jaguar or Maserati. And the Machine Grey is just gorgeous.
- The styling by light approach really shows itself as daylight progresses to dusk, and as the position of the light source changes as the car drives along. I’m incredibly impressed with the way the exterior paint and the interior materials (e.g. Ultrasuede, Sen wood and Nappa leather) color shifts. Really makes the car feel premium and fresh.
- Love, love, love the way the dash vents cut into the door. Honestly this interior feels more “bespoke” and concept-car like, than something from a mass-manufacturer.
- Love Waze integration. Use it ALL the time. Map display looks more premium than MzConnect (Google maps are the most premium-looking IMO, but with less sophisticated Nav). I no longer feel like I’m forfeiting features compared to Audi’s MMI or BMW’s iDrive.
- Chassis is tight and feels more premium.
- Love the black headliner.
- Excellent heads-up display.
- Excellent look and feel to ALL switchgear (except maybe the turning and wiper stalks)
- Continue to love the MZ Connect knobs (one of the things I’ve loved about Skyactiv platform).
The not-so-good (many nitpicks)
- Not a fan of the door pocket LED accent. Half the time the passenger-side pocket LED comes across as annoying shadow out of the corner of my eye.
- Android Auto is buggy and not well integrated with third party music apps.
- Arguably this is more a knock-on Google and 3rd party integrators rather than Mazda, since all the bugs I’ve come across also occur using the Android Audio App on my mobile phone.
- Finding that I’m taking my eyes off the road more with AA than when I used MZ Connect. Mainly since AA isn’t doing what I’m asking of it! For instance, it won’t allow me to choose a different album via JetAudio player. While it allows me to select the UI element via the command knob, the request gets dropped when Google Assistant hands off to JetAudio.
- Google Assistant is also a mixed bag. I’m guessing phone to cloud communication is spotty enough at times to kill requests I make, e.g. send text.
- Engine may still be breaking-in, but the overall character of the engine seems to change depending on environment. No doubt this is a side-effect of it being a turbo engine.
- For instance, at times it feels N/A in the way it pulls and the way it sounds going to redline, while at other times, it sounds less sporty and more “agriculturally gruff” (FYI I’m using Shell 93 exclusively).
- I’ve also found that the Skyactiv tranny has moments where it does sound CVT-ish in the way it holds revs. I find this more apparent with the turbo (compared to my 2016 N/A 6).
- Sport or manual mode fixes the tranny CVT-ish behavior but not the periodic engine gruffness.
- Redline is a bit schizophrenic. At times cut-off comes in just under 6K, while at other times the engine revs to 6.1 or 6.2K. No doubt ECU doing some magic under certain situations. Or maybe it’s a function of break-in period? Never happened with the N/A engine.
- Manual downshifting, especially 4 to 3 is annoying since I feel like I should be able to downshift sooner (i.e. higher revs). No doubt a function of the lower redline compared to the N/A engine (I also did not check on gear ratios of the N/A compared to the Turbo. Are they the same?)
- Wish the steering wheel rim was thicker.
- I installed a Xuji cover on my 2016 that fattened the wheel perfectly. Not sure I’ll do that on the 2018 given the heating element probably isn’t strong enough to conduct heat through another layer of material. Also, may cheapen an otherwise more premium-looking wheel design compared to 2016.
- Digital gauges are a bit of a gimmick. Cool-looking to be sure, but wish they were a bit more configurable.
- Not a fan of the Tachometer style. Having zero rpm at 6-oclock and a 6K redline at 11-o’clock doesn’t give me the physiological excitement of going past 12-o’clock when ringing this engine’s neck. �� My 2016 tach (as well as 2018 GTRs and below have zero at 8-o’clock, which places 6K at 1-o’clock.
- Despite a more solid feeling chassis, the doors and handles could be a smidge more premium. I can see that Mazda has fixed this with the new Skyactiv 2 platform. The new Mazda3 uses new door handles with capacitive sensors instead of the black button.
- Hate the fact that Mazda locked down MZ Connect from any hacking. But given the negative optics that can come from cybersecurity scares, I can understand this decision.
Overall, I’m very happy with my 2018 Sig. While the gauges and some LED lighting are a bit of a mixed bag, the upgraded Sig interior materials and design more than makes up for the price difference from the GTR, IMO.
Before choosing the new 6, I drove the competition as well as higher-end options, including Audi, Alfa, Kia’s Stinger etc. I perform the same exhaustive research every time it’s time to buy a new car and every time (except for one Golf R in 2012) I’ve come back to Mazda. In fact, my better half was on board with an Alfa Romeo Guilia or Stinger, but after what seemed to be countless test drives I just couldn’t rationalize the added expense or intangible worries (e.g. reliability, dealer support, maintenance costs). I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but IMO this car possesses enough of the “premium” detail and “je ne sais quoi” found in more expensive European and Japanese marques that I no longer see the point of spending 20-30K more for those products.
IMO this new premium design direction Mazda is going in truly separates it from Honda, Toyota, Subaru and Nissan, while making it harder to rationalize the added cost of “luxury brands”. Add in the increased power, refinement, voluptuous design and Mazda’s ever improving quality and reliability just reinforces how much value the redesigned 6 brings to the table. Can’t really wait to see what the new generation of Skyactive 6 brings. But for now, I’m a very happy.
Will continue to update this review as the miles pile on. But I just see this well-engineered sedan just getting better with age.